Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guam’s Blue Hole

Ok so I’ve been in Guam the past few days with no easy internet access. The hotel we are staying at claims they are in negotiations with a service provider but by all accounts this negotiation has been going on for a while with no end in sight. Wish we had of known before booking the hotel!

So today I got to ditch my lovely wife and child for a morning of diving! Peace and quiet! A good friend and dive master June has moved from Saipan to Guam and offered to take me out with his new company Sapphire dive! It looked like good weather in the morning when we left the dock and luckily the sun stayed out just long enough for our decent into the abyss. Then it didn’t stop raining hard most of the day!

The site called blue hole is a deep dive with the top of the reef at about 55 feet. There’s not a whole lot around except the hole. It’s a good size and easy to drop into. Its exit however is at about 130 feet so upon exit you will likely be feeling pretty good! I managed to get some pretty good shots with the sun ball shining down the hole including silhouettes of divers as they descended but the best shots of the day came after we left the hole and started our way back up the wall.

Here we found a very curious Giant Moray Eel. One that has obviously been feed a few times as he didn’t think twice about coming out to look at his reflection in the camera and on a few approaches attempted to nibble on my finger. Fingers look a lot like Vienna sausages! Just another reason why we really should not feed these guys but that’s a whole other Diver Ethics post.

All in all it was a good day of diving and very relaxing compared to keeping a 19 month old entertained!

Unfortunately I don’t see a lot of posts coming over the next few days since internet access is an issue. Right now I’m posting this from my car while checking my email outside the Days Inn hotel. There’s another story but last night while trying to find somewhere to log on I discovered they had free internet that just happens to reach into the parking lot!

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Diving Blog

We have a new diving blog! Well respected (I've heard good things from everyone who I know has taken a course from him) dive instructor Richard Sikkel has entered the blogging world! Check out his site. Welcome to the trenches Richard! This of course reminded me that I have not posted my third (and final) installment of the Around the Island Paddle. Richard is also very active in the Saipan Outrigger Canoe Club (SOCC). Perhaps in due course we will have a world famous Circumnavigation of Saipan outrigger race to add to the reasons for traveling and living here!

Thats Richard in the 5th seat, second from the back, grey shirt! Double Rainbow how cool is that! Click on the picture to make it a little bigger.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This Makes Me Angry

When I'm underwater not many things bug me but this is always sure to get me a little pissed.

Why do people feel they have to hold on to things especially with gloves and with No current? Why do people have to push off the coral with their fins? Please help to set a good example and instructors especially please bring these infractions to the attention of your students, don't perpetuate it by ignoring it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This Makes Me Hungry

I've been working on a personalized DVD for a group of divers who were here a few months ago and I just love this footage of a turtle grazing on the algae covered bottom at Lau Lau Bay. Of course I usually need to find a snack myself after watching this.

Marianas Diver

Tomorrow night will be our second diver meet up at Oleai Beach bar. Things are already progressing and the potential is there to put our islands on the diving map. Like a race horse behind the gate it's hard not to want to jump out and get those legs pumping (insert ballroom dancing joke here) but small steps and a strong foundation are what will win this long term race.
The building blocks for a wealth of information are being laid with the set up of a website located at
You can now sign up for the discussion board and if you have any thoughts or ideas on how we can develop a one stop shop of information for all things diving here in the Marianas please come and join us for a FAMB or a taco or a coke or ....... A dive tale or two!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The truth has been uncovered

I've just received word from Kelli that Harry has in fact purchased 60 copies of this DVD to distribute at our next Diver Meet Up. "This DVD is the right start to learn the right steps and movements and become the center of every ballroom party. By watching the live demonstrations presented to you by Sylvain Cardinal, 2 times Canadian dance champion and following the dance steps, the instructions, and movements you will be out dancing in no time".

His ultimate goal, the largest Underwater Ballroom Dance Party. During which he plans to turn off Angelo's air, strip Greg of another camera and blackmail Bev into baking him cookies by blaming the big hole in Bruce's boat on her Canon wrist accessory. Jeff of course will be there to document the whole thing but upon returning to the beach will be abducted by an angry mob of Koreans lead by EJ the ultimate party girl herself. In the end Harry will continue to deflect inquires into his true passion by posting pictures of really cool nudibranchs while promoting his new slogan to MVA - Marianas Dancing!

I can't believe this DVD was done by a Canadian, albiet what looks like a French Canadian - not that there's anything wrong with being French!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Starting point

For all those at the meet up last night and to all those who just couldn't get there I'd like to suggest a good starting point would be to compile some sort of list. I'm the first to admit that siting down to write out a complete thought takes some of us a while so if you think of something feel free to leave a few words in a comment here and I'll make sure it gets added to a "master list". For those who don't live here anymore but remember how great it is to dive here and are now dealing with heat waves (missing the cool comfortable water?) you can leave your ideas here too. What would be the tipping point for you ex pats to come back for a visit?
For those who have never been here let us know what's most important to you when choosing a dive destination and if you've found the information you would need about Saipan Rota or Tinian were you found it.

A Big Day in History - Diver Meet Up

A big day in history yesterday! Sure Barry Bonds finally broke Hanks record and the China “machine” unveiled what will be a yearlong celebration of the upcoming Olympics! But who really cares on both accounts, after all, I’m Canadian so Hockey is King and I feel for the athletes that will have to compete in that pea soup like fog of noxious chemicals! Trust me, I was happy to watch the highlights at 5AM this morning since they eventually tamed all the diving thoughts running through my head and allowed me to fall back asleep.

No, the real news of the day was the Diver Meet Up at Oleai beach bar!

Wholly crap, I’m excited. What a turn out on our first night. Great ideas, lots of discussion, divers getting to know one another and speaking passionately about what they love and of course a FAMB or two!

To try and summarize the whole night with all the ideas would be a very difficult task but the bottom line is we all agreed to do it again next week and likely every two weeks after that so if you missed this one, no worries, we’ll see you, same time, same place, next week – Wed August 15th!
There was a good cross section of folks from divers (duh) and non-divers to folks who speak Russian, German, and Japanese. We had people with little or no internet experience to folks who know the business. People with a direct vested interest in seeing the dive market grow and those who just want to share their thoughts and dive. With 40 or 50 people I’m sure I speak for Harry when I say we were blown away by the response and we were lucky to have Walt (a non-diver to this point) help moderate and Angelo to furiously take notes on his laptop.
The general theme, lots of people and different groups are doing their own thing in their own way to promote diving or maintain the dive sites here but there does not exist one central place where divers, either local or from abroad, can go to find good quality information about what the Mariana islands has to offer divers. The consensus is that we do have something unique here. We may not be able to compete, dive for dive, with Palau’s Blue Corner (who can really) but to a “T” everyone agreed there are things about diving here that are special and that we should (and can) do a better job of coming together, pooling resources such as language abilities and internet skills in order to get the word out and put us on the diving map.

How many people know that for at least the past few years there have been Whale Shark sightings just outside the Grotto’s caverns during the months of May to July? This year, thanks to the folks at seabreeze (I’m using their photo here), we have documented proof.

How many people who don’t live here and are looking for a place to dive know that on Saipan you have easy beach access to dive sites on all four sides of the island anytime of the day or night! How many people know about the untouched beauty and diversity of Rota and Tinian? How many people would be interested in hearing about our coral spawning or mating nudibranchs from a knowledgeable member of the local scientific community!

You get my point the need for a central portal and the desire and passion to make it happen has been established. Now what we desperately need is for that cross section of people to grow especially in terms of bringing all nationalities to the table. Another theme that rang throughout the night revolves around one of the biggest obstacles (and perhaps biggest assets) we have when it comes to promoting our islands on a global basis and that is the diversity of language and culture. Although it provides for a hurdle logistically, cultivating this aspect and unique distinction is also the key to establishing a truly global reach and establishing a foundation for long-term success that can endure bumps in the road! (or even Earthquakes).

Woooo Hoo, while writing this I just received an email form Scott with pictures of………

A false Pilot Whale! Are you kidding me – this was taken in our waters. I was going to mention it at some point because it illustrates a few things. First, even seasoned divers can learn new things – I had no idea they existed till Greg and Scott told me last night! You think I was excited before!

The second is exactly what I was saying with regards to language. Here is the VERY loose translation (done by the internet translator) of the post that was made in Japanese.

"Water temperature: 30 degree wave: Without the れ: The right -> to the left degree of halfway wind: Nisikita west 6.9 mile winds wave: It is not transparency: 30m Comment: Today at 4 beaches morning of John, ラウラウビーチ, グロット × 2 dived from afternoon! And "ジンベイザメ" of desire came out with グロット! Since I myself seeing in the past Guam, with 4 year 2 month inclination, of course in Saipan it was first! ! ! As for the length 5m rank, it meaning that girth is large, female kana? ! While and so on with thinking, you try approach as for the flow even cruelly アゲインスト! Even then persevering, swimming, the somehow several taking the photograph the earnest! It was rendezvous approximately 1 minutes. Oh with while saying, still it seems like dream in the occurrence, but there are no either complications and that form which in actuality quietly swims before the eye was ジンベイザメ. Today was highest 1 day truly."

Now imagine what would happen if that information were easily accessible to everyone, in every language (sorry google you just don’t beat human contact here)? A story like this, the whale shark and mating nudibranchs on top of everything else we have to offer gives us no excuses for not putting this place on the diving map!

I’ve got to stop, too many thoughts not enough time and who really wants to read all this when you could be diving! More soon!

Saipan Earthquake?

Ok it’s 7:51 AM and I’m just about to write about our Diver meet up yesterday when my desk begins to shake! I’m not one hundred percent sure, after all I did have a couple of beers last night, but that was not a shake you get from having too much the night before! This felt like an earthquake (I have felt two before) and since Indonesia was hit by one big one yesterday and we are in a active region I’ll be waiting to hear if I’m right. If it was an earthquake EMO should tell us about it in a few days I just wanted everyone to hear it here first!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Ok I've figured out why Harry gets so much traffic over at It's because he keeps making reference to nude sex. The best kind of sex actually! Wow, hold on don't go there! Maybe it's actually bald naked sex everyone's looking for , I don't know but here's a couple of those NUDIBRANCHS he's been talking about.

I've got some video of them too, not doing the nasty yet as it seems the lights made these two a little shy. They were making a bee line for each other until I showed up to shed some light on the experience. What's up with that, can't have sex with the light on! Anyway video takes a little longer than stills do so I'll get the sex video up soon. Oh ya they didn't actually do it while I was there I guess they save that for the bald voyeur.

Diver Meet Up

Oleai Beach Bar here we come!

Ok so it's been in the paper, We've been on the radio and Harry's been talking it up every chance he can get. Tonight at 6:30 PM something amazing is going to happen. A bunch of divers are going to get together and have a cocktail or two (or not) and watch the sun go down after a long day!

For clarification this started out as an idea we had to just start getting all the little groups of divers together in order to get to know each other, swap dive stories and perhaps start in motion some ideas that could help promote diving here in the CNMI. We're also hoping anyone interested in diving will come by and get a taste at least verbally what it's like to be a diver. We're also hoping that folks will come by even if they don't speak inglish as good as Harry. One thing I've learned over the years working as a dive instructor it really does not matter what language everyone speaks. When divers have a FAMB or rum and coke in their hands the message gets through some how. Sure you may not get 50% of what I say and vice versa but that's better than nothing at all. SCUBA SCUBA SCUBA - (then blow bubbles) - it's a throw back cheer from my days at Club Med and believe me there is a story or two in there too!

See you soon.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dive Site Poll surprise trailer

It seems the Grotto is pulling ahead slightly in the Dive site poll. I don't necessarily find that surprising, after all it is a very unique dive, it's technically a shore dive with "easy" access (ie no boat required) AND it gets the quantity of divers needed to win the numbers game. Not to mention the different cave openings and cracks provide ample opportunity to make each dive different. Dive the afternoon versus the mornings and the light rays can provide a completely different look and feel to the place. So, although it's not my personal favorite, I don't find it surprising that the Grotto is leading the race. What I do find surprising is the poor showing by Naftan point. I'm not alone in the assessment of this dive spot as one of the better wall dives around. This is what Nomad said in his comments when the poll first opened.

The nomad said...

You have to go with Naftan wall: in the right conditions, this is a truly awesome dive. With a slight current running north, and clear conditions (vis over 80feet), you drop in over a nice coral shelf at 40 feet and then hit a sheer wall that bottoms out from 120-200feet. The sun is sparkling down, fish are all around you (because this site is hard to access), and you are surrounded by quiet, deep, blue...

The only thing I disagree with in his assessment is the 80-foot visibility. It's usually better than this. Now I know everyone assess visibility differently and consistency between divers is almost non existent but relatively speaking you can't beat the visibility at Naftan on most, if not all, days. It's not always Cozumel-like but it's usually pretty darn good!

Then of course there is the life at the edge of the wall. As gentle currents bring nutrients to those that call this place home it's often easy to get caught focusing on activity along the edge and miss what's coming at you from out in the deep blue!

On this dive I was zoomed in on a passing Napolean wrasse when out of no where this fella showed up!

If you know someone who hasn't voted yet pass on the word, time is running out!
If you think you need to check out Naftan and perhaps change your vote give Scott a call it's well worth the trip!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Diver Meet Up

Harry's written about it on his blog. We all (Harry, Jeff, Marty and I) talked about it on the radio this morning. Next Wednesday August 8th we'll be sitting and toasting all things aquatic while watching the sunset at Oleai beach bar. The topic of conversation - Diving. Those invited - Anyone with an interest in diving. Nothing formal, no admission fee or dues just the opportunity to talk diving with other divers. A chance to put heads together and formulate ideas on how a grass roots group could help promote one of the islands biggest resources and attractions. How to improve what we have and like I say to hear an old spin on a new dive tale or two!

Know of anyone that might be interested pass on the word and we'll see you there!

Another view from Oleai.

I can fly

It was not the calmest of conditions at Lau Lau Bay today. I debated about going to Obyan to see if the water was a little more inviting but finally decided it would just make for a bigger test of the wings and setup! Everything went smoothly on entry and after a few adjustments, adding and moving foam around, it just seemed to glide through the water. I can best describe it as flying. If JoJo had put a propeller on the front of the housing I could have just hung on and flew over the bottom. So consider test flight number one a success! A short little clip from the dive. Listen close and you can hear the munching!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I have wings!

It feels like Christmas Eve! I’m too excited to sleep. Even “knowing what’s under the tree” so to speak, I still have that “can’t wait till tomorrow” feeling!

And here’s why……
No it's not because I have pink shag carpet! It's the WINGS!

Today my friends at Seafix, Mark, Dale and JoJo (JoJo’s the brains behind all of this by the way and the one in the picture with me) unveiled my newest piece of dive equipment.

I use a Light and Motion Bluefin housing for my video camera. One of the things about this set up is that with the camera, lights and battery pods it’s quite heavy. So much so, that even in the water it's very negative meaning it really wants to sink fast. Those of you who’ve dove with me have witnessed the multicolored foam pieces I attach to the housing in order to make it as close to neutrally buoyant as possible. Ahhh that weightless thing again, it won’t go up and it won’t go down. In this state it’s much easier to keep the camera steady underwater. Too heavy or too light and you’re constantly trying to “hold” the camera still instead of letting the water do it for you.

One of the questions I'm often asked when discussing my DVD is “how do you manage to keep the camera so steady underwater”. As much as I’d like to say it’s all in the skill of the operator - fact of the mater is the single most important thing, besides your own buoyancy, is how your equipment (in this case the housing) performs underwater. What I’ve found particularly frustrating with this one is that even when completely weightless (adding the foam) there is still some “roll” to it. This can be especially evident when kicking and shooting at the same time. Rather than concentrating on the action of the shot presented by Mother Nature you’re concentrating on “keeping it steady”.

After explaining the problem to the fine folks at Seafix many light bulbs went on and off as we brainstormed possible solutions. Should it attach to the bottom or the top?, what about room for my hands?, getting into tight spaces?, ease of mounting and un-mounting? etc etc ……..

Finally JoJo decided what would work and that he would build it! Today the result is my new set of wings! Must be all that clean living!

Stay tuned I’ll let you know how I make out on tomorrows dive.

Woops, I almost forgot to mention the other reason why I’m excited about tomorrow. Besides actually diving I get to start the day off talking diving only this time it will be on Harry's radio show with the other bald blogger diver. Picture me sitting between them, rubbing their heads and emitting a faint uuuummmmmmmmmm sound! Gotta get to bed so I can be up in time for my cakes, CRAB Cakes that is.